Time for a guest blog, as BH relates his day’s adventure in the world of infertility:

Midway to the hospital the bus driver turned off the engine. Doing so enabled him to direct his full attention to the argument he was having with a would-be passenger. He’d said there was no more room on the bus; she had got on anyway; he wasn’t having any of it. So the rest of us stood there and waited for one of them to give way, which took a full ten minutes. Why didn’t she just get off and wait for the next bus? Pride, I suppose.

Pride was a difficult emotion for me to relate to, as I was on my way to jizz into a plastic cup at a large public hospital in East London.

This was to be my second semen analysis. The first one, as you may recall, flagged a problem with my sperm morphology. In laymen’s terms: they swam happily, and there were lots of them, but they looked kinda funny. Lots of tapered heads, apparently. Not ideal for egg-penetration.

But a single test can be misleading. All manner of factors can push your fertility hither and thither, so my GP had ordered a second semen analysis be conducted. And today was the day.

Eventually the bus arrived outside the hospital and I disembarked, heading into the main foyer then up a flight of stairs to the Fertility Unit. Presenting myself with as much chipper professionalism as I could muster, I told the young female receptionist that I had come for a semen analysis.

“Ok, just fill out this form and then pop The Sample into this ziplock bag.”
“I haven’t… got The Sample yet.”

Oh no. The unexpected had happened. The expression on her face was unmistakeably that of ‘mild surprise’. I had made an error, and if there’s one thing you don’t want to have happen when you are telling a stranger that you’ve arrived intending to have a wank at their workplace, it’s for that stranger to seem surprised by your suggestion.

At this point I knew that, despite being flustered, it was suddenly very, very important that the receptionist and I kept referring to it as The Sample.

To her credit, she recovered well:

“Well you’ll just have to collect the Sample in the loos downstairs.”
“Can I, er, have a collection vessel for the Sample?”

After some minor rummaging she produced a plastic screw-top cup for me to spuff into. She also lent me a pen so that I could write my name and date-of-birth, as well as the date and the time, on the cup’s paper label.

Label completed, I returned the pen and left her desk wordlessly. Somehow a cheery “see you in a minute!” would have felt both dirty and wrong. Down the stairs I went, towards the toilets.

The men’s loos contained two urinals and two cubicles. I stood there and reflected on what had to be done, and looked around me, and decided that I felt unhappy.

At my first semen analysis, which took place at a private clinic, I had been ushered into a charming Wank Suite. It was a room designed for this specific purpose, as good a place as any to jerk off in Central London. It contained a sink, lots of tissue, a laminated (!) card outlining the recommended process, a drawer full of porn and a lockable door. Whilst the whole experience was surreal, at least I felt I was just following a standard procedure in a standard way. Hundreds of fertility-anxious men had jerked-off over copies of Club International in here. They even had signs in the corridor asking staff to be quiet, with the implied-but-absent words being “…so that you don’t disturb our clients’ wanks”.

Whereas… a double-urinal, double-cubicle public toilet is not designed to make you think positive happy thoughts as you coax your nuts into producing a goddamn Sample. Here I faced the prospect of trying to keep the noise of arm-shuffling to a minimum whilst also trying to ignore the sounds and smells of other men urinating. I baulked. I exited. I tried the disabled loo instead.

This was nirvana, in relative terms. Spacious, and much quieter. I hung my jacket on the back of the door, prepared my Sample pot, unzipped and got to work.

It wasn’t easy without porn. You see, when you’re summoning a Sample the true purpose of porn is not so much to arouse you as to shut out the stream of anxious thoughts that a formal Semen Analysis provokes. Porn allows you to tap into a primal part of yourself that responds, with dog-like simplicity, to airbrushed photos of someone’s tits, ass and pussy. Without porn, all you’re left with is your imagination. And in a situation like the one I found myself in, your imagination is busy envisaging scenarios such as ‘I accidentally hit the disabled loo’s alarm button and a janitor bursts in to save me, only to find me masturbating over a tiny plastic pot’.

At one point in the corridor directly outside the loo a child started wailing at its mother. I wanted to shout “Hey kid! Shut up! You’re preventing me from finding out if I can have a screaming child of my own!” So the circumstances were definitely not proving wank-friendly.

But I had a few things in my favour.

First and foremost, for many years I was a teenage boy. And, like all teenage boys, I used much of my time developing a mastery of masturbation. Underhand, overhand, left or right hand, pillow, sock or paw, indoors, outdoors, almost any time or place. In karate terms, during those teenage years you could rightfully tie a black-belt around my much-abused schlong.

Secondly, if there’s one profession that enables a man to keep his hand in, as it were, in this particular field of expertise… it’s that of being a writer. Any male writer worth his salt can jerk-off with his left hand while surfing Wikipedia with his right-hand and call that a very productive day.

And finally, I had my imagination. In recent years this has been forced to shape-up in order to make my profession viable (after all, writers have to sell stuff between their wikis and wanks). So I summoned some clichés and I filled that disabled toilet cubicle with a cavalcade of hot horny nurses. (And yes, it was a cavalcade of nurses: no other collective noun will do when faced with a room full of imaginary naked nymphomaniac medical personnel).

And, eventually, I got there.

I returned to reception in the Fertility Unit, now bearing The Sample, and was told to put in the yellow bucket.

“That one, the one of top of the box?”
“Yes, the yellow bucket.”
“I just put it in there?”
“Yes. Just open the lid and drop it in there. That’s all you need to do.”

I was determined to get the whole Sample-deposit bit right, terrified of being called back next week to be told ‘Last time you placed it in the wrong bucket. So now you have to do it again, only this time a male orderly will sit in the cubicle with you to double-check that you produce the Sample correctly’.

I placed The Sample inside the yellow bucket and left the hospital.

Results come back next Wednesday. Wish me luck!